Breaking News
More () »

Florida mother's family awarded $11M in kratom wrongful death lawsuit

Krystal Talavera was just 39 years old when she collapsed at home while making breakfast on Father's Day in 2021.
Credit: Talavera family via mctlaw
Krystal Talavera

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida judge awarded a family $11 million in a wrongful death lawsuit involving kratom, court documents show

Called the "nucleus of the family," Krystal Talavera was just 39 years old when she collapsed at home while making breakfast on Father's Day in 2021, later dying at the hospital. According to mctlaw, when her partner found her that day a cup of hot coffee and an open package of kratom were by Talavera's unconscious body. 

The couple's 14-month-old baby was playing next to her body, her partner said. 

The Palm Beach County coroner's said Talavera's cause of death was due to "acute mitragynine intoxication." Mitragynine is the plant used to make kratom. 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, kratom is "often used to self-treat conditions such as pain, coughing, diarrhea, anxiety and depression, opioid use disorder, and opioid withdrawal." The FDA has not approved any uses of kratom. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says because the FDA doesn't regulate kratom, kratom products could contain contaminants, including harmful bacteria and heavy metals. This risk is also present in products marketed as herbal supplements, according to NIDA. 

RELATED: Under new Florida law, kratom will only be sold to people 21 and older

In Talavera's wrongful death lawsuit, Judge Donald Middlebrooks held Grow, LLC and Sean Michael Harder, the owner and operator of The Kratom Distro responsible for the mother of four's death. 

“I again emphasize that no award of damages will ever be adequate and that this decision reflects nothing more than an adherence to prior cases," Middlebrooks said, explaining in part how he came to the $11 million judgment. Court documents show the plaintiffs initially sought $20 million, $5 million for each of Talavera's children. 

In the final ruling, the judge awarded more than $4.6 million in economic damages to Talavera's estate. An additional $7 million was awarded to Talavera's four children, an amount Grow, LLC and Sean Michael Harder are ordered to pay. 

Her eldest son, Devin Filippelli, who had just graduated high school the day before his mother's death, will receive $1 million. He told the court the grief he experienced "derailed" his college plans. 

RELATED: Drug pipeline: I-75 runs through 3 places in Florida with the most fentanyl deaths

Talavera's three other children will each receive $2 million. According to Talavera's ex-husband, her two middle children are still grieving their mother's death and are in therapy. Talavera was the parent who provided a "loving touch" that his sons no longer have, her ex testified. 

“This $11-million-dollar judgment should be a wakeup call to the kratom industry about this dangerous and unregulated substance,” Talavera’s lawyer Tamara Williams of mctlaw said. “There are families across the country who know firsthand that kratom is addictive and can be deadly.”

As of July 1, Florida law only allows kratom to be sold to people ages 21 and older. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out